by Geneva Observer for the Saker blog
Today, with a sunny blue sky and cold breeze, I had the pleasure to accompany three generations of family members to the voting polls here in Yaroslavl. The polling station was in the local school. The school is surrounded by an iron enclosure with a gate to allow a single person to enter at a time. Two steps up and we entered through the main steel door.
Free masks were made available at the entry. No one made an issue of actually wearing them. There was a metal detector at the entry but it was not in use (we had no big bags or knapsack). We walked by it and headed up a flight of stairs and down a hallway to a large room flanked with large trestle tables. Each table had a person with a list of voters before them. On the wall was marked the building you resided in.
The electoral official demands you identify yourself with a passport or other identification before marking you on their list as having been given your ballots. The date and time is indicated on the list. The listing is then pushed toward the voter. The person receiving the ballot then signs on the line. The signatures are upside down as the
list is not turned for signature. I guess this makes it more difficult to fake someone else’s signature.
By the windows is a set a screens to actually mark your ballots. There is one with individual names that are running for election and a second ballot which is marked with the logo and name of the political party. Half of the representatives are elected directly. The other half is by party representation.
In Russia there is almost no waiting in a line to be able to vote. Voters have no need to have water distributed to them in a waiting line. The school toilets are available to whomever needs them. Those who need help with the stairs just need to ask.
For those that cannot make it for health or other reasons you can vote at home. You must apply on the gosuslugi (state services) site from the 9th to the 14th of September (ten to five days in advance) or telephone the polling commission. You can also vote at another place if you are traveling, again as per the above procedure. You will then vote at the polling station where you are.
The paper ballots are then placed upside down and scanned into the ballot box. The polling will finish at 20h00 this evening. We expect the first vote count results this evening.
This Russian election looks to me as well organized, safe and secure. It will be difficult to have anything like the recent US presidential election controversies.
Yesterday we were in the city center and passed the Yves Rocher shop. There was no political signage or any trace of the Navalny brothers to be seen within a hundred meters of the shop.
The United Russia party appears to still dominate but with somewhat less support after the pension reforms. Fair Russia has the ex-governor of Yaroslavl running for them and will likely attract a large number of votes from United Russia. The Communist party appears to be the largest opposition but it is too early to say how well they will do in this polling. There will be lots to talk about the election results over tomorrow morning’s coffee.